“There’ll always be working people in my poems because I grew up with them, and I am a poet of memory.”—Philip Levine
It is Sunday morning and I have to be gone by Tuesday. And maybe I’ll have enough rent to get myself some more time, but probably not and I should be going to another city anyway. I’m done here. I’ve been done here for years.
There are bread crumbs and meals of peanut butter and jelly, the hot dogs are gone and so is the cola. And I worked on my collection and I said I wasn’t going to do that. And so then why….why did I go back to something that I shouldn’t probably go back to, that’s easy, because I have to do something because I only know how to work. But I need something that makes, something that makes, and I don’t know what makes money, at least that is what it seems like these days. And isn’t that what you work for, for money, well yes and no, and I know what I mean when I say that, but I’m not sure how to explain that statement well enough yet, and so I’ll wait and hopefully down the road I’ll be able to write good enough to say what I know.
But as of right now, as of this moment, I’m tired and I’m afraid to go to bed because then time will be up, and I will hurt, and I don’t want to hurt, so I stay up. The reason I’m finishing all this material and the reason I work, is because I only know how to work. This is what I do and I would do something else, and I have tried. I’ve sent out probably well over a thousand resumes to every field that I could do, and that I’ve been told I could do, based on my college degree. But for almost ten years now I’ve been a writer. I don’t know why. I didn’t want to do this forever, rather, I didn’t mean to do this forever.
The year is two thousand fourteen and I dread pulling up the classifieds and I dread to waste my time, because my time is valuable, and that is why book after book and word after worried night and new day that brings me page after page, and after burning printers out and making books by hand and doing anything to work, just to work, because if nobody is going to let me work, well I’m going to work on my books.
This is the day and it is Sunday. For almost ten years I’ve worked ten to fifteen hours a day on the printed word, and I’ve lost myself and felt manic when I’ve succumb to screen overdose, and this is real; if you look at words too long you will see them not as words but as a reflection of some kind of dream. The world is different once you look at words as long as I have, and this is true, and so do I want to do this, I don’t know, but I do…do this, because I only know how to work.
Now it is time to clean. Now it is time to pack. I used my last free print off coupon that I got before the summer started down at the copy shop, because I already printed too much on my pals printer, and so that is why on a slow Sunday and down by the mall, the printer is stacking up another book, and after I finish editing this, I’m going to ride an old fixed gear two miles and make something out of this day, I’m going to make a book, and I know how to do it quickly now, although drawing straight lines has never been my strong suit. Sometimes my books look like a caveman made them. I like to say, this adds charm, even though it probably doesn’t because people like something that looks like their word usage of, normal.
After that is done, I’m thinking that the grass looks like a good bed to read in today. And that is why, in a way, the reason I felt it was the right decision to stand somebody up last night who asked me to go out for drinks, and she even called it a date, and I said I’m sorry but maybe I shouldn’t go because I can’t really offer her anything right now. I don’t have a car or a home or a many dollars to my name, and needed to, to go out with her, but I don’t have time for it right now, because American love is expensive. She was upset with me. I said I was sorry and made something up. I didn’t tell her why I canceled, but it was because I was poor, and it was because I have to work harder than anybody to be poor.
That was last night. At first I was pissed and then I got over it. I didn’t even drink and I was talking to my friend who I’m staying with, who has to give me the boot, because everything has fallen through for me again, to friends and jobs and just everything.
But anyway, so my friend has to give me the boot, because that is what society says must be done, but he’s a good poet and a good friend, and so whatever…it is what it is. And he woke up and I was working on my words and he read me this poem by a laureate, and he asked me if I knew what that means, what a laureate is, and I laughed and said yeah, I know what a laureate is, and that’s just one example but it happens to me all the time. People tell me about so many things I know. Maybe that is how I know so many things so well, and maybe writing keeps you young, I don’t know what it is, but it sure isn’t my writer’s diet…
Like usual, I don’t know what to say, but for whatever the reason may be, I’m an old man and nobody knows that. Maybe even older than my age. But I didn’t like the way I laughed because I was being a bit cocky or pretentious….you know, saying but of course I know what that is, but being sarcastic comes naturally to me because people talk to me like I’m a punk teenager, and I don’t know why, because I know about so much….
From science to philosophy, from sports to culture, to music to religions, to books and art and fashion, to everything that is us. I’ve studied everything that is humanity for now almost fifteen years, and when you’re around youth as long as I have been you tend to learn the same thing over and over again and this creates a good memory, but I need to let the young writers and poets be young writers and poets, act like I don’t know so they can remember what they know, and that’s why I need to get going somewhere new. I need a small place to myself and I need some money, I don’t know how to make money because, well nobody will give me a chance. But I do know how to write and make books, and I know how to listen and make friends, I know a thing or two about everything, and I hope that turns into something.
It was late and he had to work in the morning and he couldn’t sleep. He came out to the living room and there I was, on the computer, hooked into the machine and my eyes burning and my big old reading glasses on, working on words that are fiction, turning old stories into a kind of anthology that nobody asked for, a book from my first year to the present year, and ten years doesn’t seem like a long time, but the gap between 22 and 32 seems like a lifetime as far as being a writer is concerned. Back then I was a kid who didn’t know what he wanted to do, other than graduate college. Now I’m a writer who’s done with school and wants to work, and so that’s what I do, I work.
On the stoop he said do you mind if I tell you a story. I said by all means. He told me about the time when he was in highschool, he’s twenty-four now, and so that was only seven years ago for him, and he said how he had to go on a senior retreat and how he had these vivid memories about the lake, a small lake that the retreat was located at. And he talked about the water and the tubing and how he swam across the entire lake. When he got to the other side he met up with one of his friends and nobody was in some big house and he raided the fridge and drank non alcoholic beer and talked about girls. And it was great he said, and that’s all he told me, it was just a memory, and he said it seems like such a magical memory, perfect in the way I remember it. My friend said that those kind of moments seem “fleeing”, during these days of being a “grown up”, and I agreed and told him that I knew what he meant, that I too haven’t felt that kind of moment, the right moment, the perfect and dream like real life moment, those summer moments and those old best kinds of moments that you think about as being perfect; those moments that you sit out on your stoop in the middle of the night and tell some poor writer who’s supposed to be out of your house by Tuesday.
He’s right though. Those moments are great and I have many. Ex girlfreinds who I loved and christmas mornings and diving into lakes and my long trips around this country… and yeah, the past is great, and this is what I said to him; the past always has the tendency to become perfect, because you always remember the best of that moment, trim out the fat so to speak. I said maybe these are those types of moments too, maybe I’ll look back on these days when I was just getting by and writing and would-be fading further into poverty. Maybe these are the moments that will be turned into nostalgia, just as that lake did for you. He didn’t seem to agree and only laughed.
And I told him that we’re not even that old yet, and how everything remembered will seem however we choose to remember it. And see, my grandmother always had the best temperament, she’s in her late eighties and people are always so worried about her, although she was the only one in my family who never got into any kind of driving accident, and although she was the one who always bailed everyone out when they were having money problems, and although…just everything, people still always worry about her, and they do this because she was old, because she was living her life, and she always told me how most of what we think is the most important at the moment isn’t at all, and she always told me to enjoy life and not let anything get to you that much, and how every memory and moment counts, and in some roundabout way, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say in this post, as well as what I was trying to say to my friend; I was trying to remember that maybe, and probably, these are some of the moments that maybe if I didn’t, later on I would have wished I’d written about and seen in a better light. And even though I’m angry and hungry and feel really abandoned and alone….I’m probably not, and my life and all of our lives are funny and absurd and we need to remember how lucky we are to enjoy these moments, no matter how dark they seem. Because chances are if we remember to not take anything too seriously after it happens, then we will get through them, and we will remember what we thought to be just those same old normal times, boring times, typical and those nothing times; it’s just… chances are in another ten years, some of this, will be those dream like times that inspire new art and our new days of work, and then these thoughts and memories, at least fragments of them, idealized and true without the self consciousness of youth; these will be the formed memories that get us through the new dark times that will always come out of nowhere, because that is the nature of life, and I think it is important to remember that.
In the end, I didn’t mean this to go on so long, but well this is what I do, and I only know how to work, but for now I’m turning off my book-making mind again. I have to clean and help out with yard work, and then I’m going to read and fall asleep. This time I’m going to give the second book in the my series a go, see if it reads as good as the first one did. I really hope people check these books out someday (or now because I could use the money badly) because I think they are good, and are (possibly) about everything we dream about. But that is all. Thank you for reading.
If you want to buy a book, click on the title below. I linked to the page where you can buy them. Both are under (on sale) ten dollars and are full short novels.